Saturday, October 01, 2005

Former Khmer Rouge torturer recovering from surgery

Monday February 7, 2:10 PM

AP--Kaing Khek Iev, the notorious former chief of a Khmer Rouge torture center, is recovering well from a prostate operation and could be sent back to his prison cell in the near future, a doctor said Monday.

Hospitalized with a urinary track problem, Kaing Khek Iev underwent a successful operation last Friday.

Doctors reportedly took extra precautions since he is a key figure for prosecution by a proposed tribunal for surviving Khmer Rouge leaders.

"He is doing very well. The wound (from surgery) will fully heal in about a week. No more problem is expected," said Dr. Kao Try, director of a military hospital where Kaing Khek Iev is now recovering.

He said that after recovery, Kaing Khek Iev will be taken back to a Phnom Penh military prison, where he has been held since his arrest in 1999.

Kaing Khek Iev, also known as Duch, ran the Khmer Rouge's S-21 prison in Phnom Penh where up to 16,000 Cambodians were tortured and taken away for execution. Only 14 people are thought to have survived.

News about Kaing Khek Iev's illness prompted concerns that he might die before he could be tried for his crimes.

Two survivors of the prison, Bou Meng and Vann Nath, said they have prayed for Kaing Khek Iev to live long enough to face trial along with other leaders of the genocidal regime.

Cambodia and the United Nations have agreed to hold a joint tribunal, but the two sides are currently trying to raise funds for it.

The Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, and its radical communist policies led to the death of more than 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution.

None of the former leaders have faced justice. Pol Pot, the movement's chief, died in 1998, but several of his top lieutenants, aging and infirm, still live freely in Cambodia.

Kaing Khek Iev is only one of two former Khmer Rouge leaders in detention awaiting trial. The other is Ta Mok, the ex-Khmer Rouge army chief.

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